blueollie

Depressing state of politics

Ok, it is no secret that I never considered Donald Trump to be suitable POTUS material. Enough of my countrymen disagreed enough for him to squeak by in the Electoral College though he lost the popular vote by about 3,000,000 votes (and if you start complaining that is a fake statistic because of “illegals voting”, you are too stupid to be reading my blog, so just get lost right now).

Now our rough, tough, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN president is…whining?

Pathetic. But it probably plays to his hard core supporters because, well, many of them are also whiny little victims. A great explanation is here: (and he uses a King Solomon story to help make his point)

Upshot: remember those pitiful “what has happened to my country” whines when President Obama was in office? (if you want to be nauseated, watch at 1:15)

They had an idea of what their country was like (no, it never was that way), and they had a skilled con man running to saying “he would make it great again” by…well, sticking it to the liberals. Sure the real agenda is the same as it always was (tax cuts for the wealthiest among us), and they sold it to the base by, well, attacking people like me.

So that brings me to the Democrats.

And I’ll say it: as evil as I think the elite Republican mission is (the tax cuts for the wealthy above all else), they are better politicians than we are. And their “message to the base” is an easier sale; all one has to do is to cherry pick a few ridiculous college campus incidents to get people fired up about how ridiculous liberals are (like this one)

(for the record: there are crackpot professors…but it has gotten so ridiculous that people who have never set foot in a college classroom see fit to tell me what goes on in colleges and how *I* brainwash students into not working hard, hating American, etc.)

So, what are Democrats about? We are supposed to be about a society that works for all, including the less talented, the disabled, the poor, the sick, those born into tough circumstances, etc.

And guess what? That is a tough sell. The Republicans glorify the rich…and well, most all of us want to be rich, or at least moderately comfortable.

Who wants to be poor, sick, laid off, mentally ill, or disabled?

We Democrats talk about safety nets (e. g. Medicaid) and minimum wages. BUT FEW WANT TO HAVE TO USE SAFETY NETS, TO BE ON MEDICAID OR TO WORK FOR MINIMUM WAGE. These policy issues are tough to rally around and those who would benefit the most vote at low rates. (directly, anyway; the economy does benefit from safety net programs). “The poor” is not that big of a voting block and much of the “working class” really isn’t poor.

Yes, there are people who will never grow much past a minimum wage job and Democratic policies might help them, but no one wants to face up to the fact that they are doomed to be stuck on that rung for life.

And so we get critiques of how well the Democrats are doing (and yes, “pathetic” is accurate). Oh, true, we did win the popular vote in 6 of the last 7 Presidential elections (2004 was the exception) but the EC hurt us in 2000 and really hurt us in 2016.

So we try to critique ourselves, and get, well, pathetic articles like this one. Example:

When the poll came out saying that “Democrats stand for nothing more than opposing” Trump, I thought to myself, ‘If only that were true!’” But they can’t even do that well. When House Democratic Caucus chairman Joe Crowley was asked by the Associated Press just what his party’s core message was, he “hesitated” and then said, “That message is being worked on.”

It was as tone deaf (but honest) an answer as when Mother Jones writer Kevin Drum – as sycophantic a representative of the Democratic party in the punditocracy as there is – wrote about how people would have to be “crazy” not to “have a reflective disgust” of people who are homeless and mentally ill.

Considering homeless people are also disproportionately black, LGBT, disabled and, of course, poor, Drum managed to reveal the disdain the liberal elite has of wide swaths of Americans.

Uh, I think the latter is just reality. Most people do have at least an internal “yuck” reaction to many of the homeless and mentally ill.

My response is that we need to use our morals and intellect to work past that “yuck” response ..and to realize that our discomfort might be born from fear that we are just a single (or a few) unlucky incidents from being just like that homeless or mentally ill person.

Example: what if I sustain a head injury that harms my ability to even do math, much less teach and research it? Oh sure, there is enough in the bank to have the home free and clear (and pay taxes) but what about that income? I have disability insurance, but times would get tougher, very quickly.

Nevertheless, articles such as the one I quoted attempt to throw cold water on what I think are needed, frank discussions.

And there is the old “Bernie would have won” bullshit. Yes, I am aware of the polls that showed him beating Trump head to head by bigger margins than Clinton was leading by..but you don’t think that the Trump analytics team would have absolutely vaporized Sanders? Please.

And some are saying he is the 2020 front runner? Oh, spare me. Oh yes, Hillary Clinton is not a great campaigner and I think that she is done, just as Al Gore was in 2000. But Bernie Sanders? Nope.

Oh well, this is why I haven’t written much about politics this year. I consider Trump to be dangerously incompetent and temperamentally unsuited for the job. But I consider my party to be politically incompetent.
In short, the Republicans can win elections but cannot govern; the Democrats can govern but suck at elections.

And yes, I think that the extreme political skill (and policy chops) of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama hid many of our party’s weaknesses. How many of these “purple unicorns” (blessed with show business AND policy skills like Pres. C and Pres. O) do we have?

It is just too depressing right now.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, economy, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, social/political | | Leave a comment

They don’t even try to hide it

Yes, the vote on the toxic Senate version of “Trumpcare” has been delayed. Of course, this bill fixes NONE of the problems with the ACA but instead cuts taxes on the wealthy. I am not sure how cutting Medicaid (on a percapita basis) and giving the wealthy a tax cut on investment income is supposed to be good for anyone except those who need it the least.

And yes, Big Money is pissed; they don’t even try to hide their contempt for the rest of us. But have the Republicans become so terrible that even they have to take a step back?

I honestly don’t know.

Right now, the Republicans say (with varying degrees of exaggeration) that the ACA needs improving. I agree with that. But their solution: kick people off of Medicaid and give tax cuts to the rich? Oh my goodness…

Can’t Mitch McConnell, for once in his life, say “no” to Big Money?

Workout notes: weights plus an easy 2 mile walk.

weights: rotator cuff, hip hikes, toe raises, pull ups (5 sets of 10, went well), incline: 10 x 135, 5 x 160, 7 x 150, military: 15 x 55 seated, supported (dumbbells), 10 x 45 standing, 10 x 90 (each arm) machine, rows: 2 sets of 10 x 55 each arm, 10 x 110 machine.

Of note: when I was doing my 15 x 55 while seated, I noticed the pressure I put on my seat. I had 110 extra pounds..and that is more or less how it used to feel to sit when I was at my fattest.

June 28, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, walking, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

Democrats: offer a “yea” vote on AHCA if they remove the tax cuts

Let’s be blunt: the AHCA (aka “Turtlecare”, “Cheetocare”) is nothing more than a repeal of the high end tax hikes on the well-to-do. Period. The rest is to make reconciliation work.

So, let the Democrats in the Senate offer to back the Senate version if The Turtle takes out those tax cuts.

Play chicken with ’em.

Note: I hate The Turtle (aka Sen. McConnell) but he is a sharp politician; evidently he set it up so that wavering Republican Senators can get political cover by suggesting small (but inconsequential) amendments.

June 22, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics | , , | Leave a comment

Oh boy…dark days ahead

Tomorrow, Georgia 6’th Congressional District will vote on a replacement for Tom Price’s old seat. He won 62-38 in 2016, but resigned to take a post in the Trump administration. Though Trump narrowly won the district 48-47, this seat was considered safe..until..recent events.

The Democrat Jon Ossoff got more votes than anyone else in the primary, but narrowly missed the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff. So now he is locked in a tight battle with Karen Handel with the polls being so close. Ossoff did have a 7 point lead in one of them, but most have been 0-2 points with Ossoff leading; the latest had Handel up by 2 (but the day before, Ossoff was up by 1 and 2 points).

In other words: toss up.

And in the Senate, Mitch “the Turtle” McConnell won’t let anyone outside of his narrow circle see the Senate’s bill, and he will force a quick vote on it.

My guess is that he wants to avoid public scrutiny AND to keep Trump out of the loop. And if it fails..well, he wants to move on to tax cuts.

I think that is the way to read this: whatever gets them to tax cuts the quickest…that is, tax cuts for the wealthiest among us.

I am not sure how much he will put into the health care bill itself.

Workout notes Bonus walk with Barbara after weights (2 miles)

rotator cuff, hip hikes, calf raises
pull ups: 5 sets of 10 (ok)
bench press: 10 x 135, 4 x 190, 8 x 170
incline: 10 x 135
military: seated, 15 x 55, then 10 x 45, 10 x 40
rows: 2 sets of 10 x 55, 10 x 60
yoga: abs, 1-2 sun salutes, headstand (good?), plank for 2:30

I saw Barbara on the way home and so walked a leisurely 2 miles with her.

Note: I am getting the old “piriformis tingles” again; brought on by the onset of longer, faster walks, I think.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics, walking, weight training | , | Leave a comment

Forget about Impeaching Trump…for now.

If you read my twitter feed, some are under the impression that Trump will be removed from office. Nate Silver does a very detailed analysis and concludes:

All that work … and I’m still not going to give you a precise number for how likely Trump is to lose his job. That’s because this is a thought experiment and not a mathematical model. I do think I owe you a range, however. I’m pretty sure I’d sell Trump-leaves-office-early stock (whether because of removal from office or other reasons) at even money (50 percent), and I’m pretty sure I’d buy it at 3-to-1 against (25 percent). I could be convinced by almost any number within that range.

The easiest-to-imagine scenario for Trump being removed is if Republicans get clobbered in the midterms after two years of trying to defend Trump, the Republican agenda is in shambles, Democrats begin impeachment proceedings in early 2019, and just enough Republicans decide that Pence (or some fresh face with no ties to the Trump White House) gives them a better shot to avoid total annihilation in 2020.

In some sense, then, the most important indicators of Trump’s impeachment odds are the ones you’d always use to monitor the political environment: presidential approval ratings, the generic congressional ballot and (if taken with appropriate grains of salt) special election results. What makes this time a little different is that if Republicans think the ship is sinking, impeachment may give them an opportunity to throw their president overboard first.

And I’ve seen credible arguments that…Trump could well end up getting reelected in 2020! (yeah, I know…it is a Salon article, but this article strikes me as being credible).

Trump’s approval, while dismal for a new president, isn’t at historic lows (though low FOR THIS POINT in an administration). The Real Clear Politics approval average is just under 40 percent. His Gallup poll approval is at 37 percent. But it is at 84 percent among Republicans.

That might seem hard to believe, but remember that lots of Republicans do not trust the New York Times, Washington Post, or CNN. This is what they are seeing:

They are much more likely to be up in arms about what some obscure liberal arts professor said than about serious issues like this one:

President Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials.

Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.

Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president.

Trump sought the assistance of Coats and Rogers after FBI Director James B. Comey told the House Intelligence Committee on March 20 that the FBI was investigating “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”

Trump’s conversation with Rogers was documented contemporaneously in an internal memo written by a senior NSA official, according to the officials. It is unclear if a similar memo was prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to document Trump’s conversation with Coats. Officials said such memos could be made available to both the special counsel now overseeing the Russia investigation and congressional investigators, who might explore whether Trump sought to impede the FBI’s work.

Things like Trump’s embarrassing mathematical error in his new budget (he double counted the projected offsets to his proposed 2 trillion dollar tax cuts) will be seen as, at worst, “liberal lies” and, at best, the “he said, she said” part of partisan politics.

If that sounds incredible, well, we are not behind their propaganda wall.

Many of us simply do not associate with many (if any) Trump supporters; we are hearing different things than they are. Note how “clumpy” this precinct level map is; Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by close to 3 million votes, but, on an individual level, we are likely to interact mostly with those who see eye to eye with us. Yes, I live in a county (Peoria, IL) that barely went for Clinton; my Congressional District (IL-17) elected Cheri Bustos (Democrat) but was carried by Trump (barely); Obama won it by 17 points in 2012. (2016 by Congressional District, by County)

So, I have to disagree with her here:

Interviews with Trump supporters are the only way I come to grips with, well, how delusional the Republican rank and file is.

And these are the people who vote for all of those Republicans in Congress. And now, Trump has big money behind him (tax cuts).

But between now and 2020 lie the 2018 midterms and those are huge; the President’s party usually loses seats.

But that means flipping some “swing districts” and IN SUCH DISTRICTS, “impeachment” does not play well there.

So, I’d like us to focus on winning at least one chamber (maybe two?) in 2018, and would settle for a legislative stalemate between now and then.

Realpolitik.

Workout notes
5 treadmill miles; slow warm up (2 miles just over 22 minutes; 5.2 going up .1 every .5 miles) then 3 miles of .25 faster, .25 walk (3.7 mph); .25 segments were 6.7, 6.9, 7.0 (two reps at each level). Just enough to get sweaty (197.5 before, 194.3 after).

May 23, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, republicans, republicans politics, running, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Critiquing Trump: big deals, usual critiques and silliness

Yes, this is a big deal. In a meeting with Russian officials, Trump blurted out highly sensitive information, which we now know was obtained from Israel.

Yes, this is a big deal. Not only might this get a source killed, it might make Israel less likely to share stuff with us, and it might make our own intelligence people less likely to tell POTUS what they know.

But even worse (if that is possible), is that our Republican political leadership is unwilling to do anything about it, since they feel that they can get their precious tax cuts if DJT remains in office with at least a little bit of credibility.

Paul Krugman has a good tweetstorm on that topic:

But will this matter to the rank and file Republican? Sadly: probably not, or at least “not much”; they will see this as the usual “back and forth” that goes on with any president.

I remember that I went through something like this at the governor level: yes, I voted for Blagojevich a second time. Yes, I heard the dissension but around here, and I even backed his primary opponent to the point of giving him money. And the Republicans lie and overblow things so much that I didn’t believe them, at least at first. Then I began to have doubts, but was told by one “sort of party insider” that people were angry at him because they didn’t get the expected patronage.

It turns out that the Republicans were actually telling the truth!!! That is one vote that I wish I had back.

Happily, the Democratic legislature did the right thing and impeached him.

So what to make of Trump? Note, I am limiting myself to stuff he does AFTER becoming president; Russian interference in our election (along with possible collusion) is a different matter.

First there is the silly stuff. I don’t care how he likes his steak, how many scoops of ice cream he has, that he is fat, or that he doesn’t have a dog.

Then there is the usual partisan stuff, when he does Republican things, I am not going to like them. But elections do have consequences. I’ll speak my mind but this is the normal partisan push-back.

Next: any President has to make decisions and those will be critiqued. An example of this was Trump’s decision to bomb that Syrian airfield. I saw that as a rather futile gesture that really had no impact but I can see many Presidents doing this. But these decisions will always attract scrutiny. And some of what he tries won’t work out. Yes, Obama had a few policy misses too, but these were hardly “unfit for office” stuff, no matter how much the morons on Facebook and Twitter scream.

Then there is the “he isn’t behaving in a Presidential manner” stuff. I think that this is important, but not to the degree “we have reason to remove this man from office” important. I do not like the way he criticizes private citizens; I think that he sets a very poor example in this area. No president in my memory did anything like this. This is ugly, but, well, a large minority of people (not even a plurality!) voted for this or at least did not see it as disqualifying.

Finally, there is the “unfit for office” stuff: these are his sneering at the emoluments clause (profiting from his office), his nepotism and now, this impulsive giving out highly sensitive intelligence because he wants to show off, and his attempts to interfere with an ongoing FBI investigation. Yes, I see Trump as unfit for office.

May 16, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, republicans, republicans politics, social/political | | Leave a comment

Ok, Obamacare repeal passes the House..what next? Malthus lives on…

Here are a couple of good articles which explain what must happen for this bill to become law: it needs a CBO score, then it needs to be determined if this bill meets the rules for reconciliation AND it can even get 50 Republican votes. (Washington Post, Scientific American)

My guess: House moderate Republicans changed their minds because, unlike the ACA, this is unlikely to become law in its current form. So, while the ACA passage cost the Democrats many, many seats, this bill, if it dies or becomes unrecognizable, might not cost the Republicans nearly as much.

Besides, the biggest threat to many Republicans is a primary challenge, NOT the general election.

My guess: the Senate will have to make some tweaks to both get to 50 votes AND to meet reconciliation rules, and that tweaked bill might not survive a second round in the House. I’ll be watching carefully.

Oh, my feed is full of “those heartless Republicans” but these pleas are likely to fall on deaf ears. The elite Republicans have always had a bit of a social Darwinist element to their reasoning.

You see life is hard, it is risky and many do not make it. If you are one of those, well, that is sad, and perhaps a charity might help you out. But that is NOT “our problem”.

This sentiment is expressed by former US Representative Joe Walsh:

Republicans in office cannot say this directly, but he can. Believe me, many of the wealthy Republicans think this way.

There are assets and debits. If you cannot contribute due to either age or disability AND aren’t wealthy, well, you are a debit, not a credit. So society is better off not supporting you. Reverend Malthus would be proud.

Workout notes:
rotator cuff, pull ups (ugly got 10-10-10-10-(5-5), incline presses (10 x 135, 5 x 135, 4 x 135, strict hips), military: 20 x 50 (dumbbell) seated, supported, 2 sets of 10 x 45 standing (dumbbell), 3 sets of 10 x 110 row machine.

2 mile run: 10:36/19:14 via 8 minutes of 2-2-2-2, then 6.7 until mile 1, 6.8-7.1 and 7.2 for the last 46 seconds.

Then goblet squats (100 meter walk recoveries) 50-45-50-60-50-65 (5 reps). Took two sets to get to the proper depth.

Now: onward to see my daughter graduate and finish final exams.

May 4, 2017 Posted by | health care, Personal Issues, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics, running, social/political, weight training | Leave a comment

One problem with being utterly cocksure…

This article about Mitch McConnell is quite good. Yeah, he is a shrewd politician:

ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis, author of a McConnell biography, “The Cynic,” reports former Republican senator Robert Bennett’s account of what McConnell told fellow Republicans after Obama’s election: “Mitch said, ‘We have a new president with an approval rating in the 70 percent area. We do not take him on frontally. We find issues where we can win, and we begin to take him down, one issue at a time. We create an inventory of losses, so it’s Obama lost on this, Obama lost on that.’ ”

And that’s what he did. By 2013, for example, 79 of Obama’s nominees had been blocked by filibusters, compared with 68 in the entire previous history of the Republic.

After Justice Antonin Scalia’s death was confirmed last year, it took McConnell less than an hour to say that the vacancy should be filled by the next president. He called keeping Obama’s nominee off the court “one of my proudest moments.”

He is also a loathsome scumbag and embodies much of what is wrong with our political system. He is about “power for us first and foremost”..presumably because he is so sure that what HE thinks is, well, must be what is best for the country. And in a country where one of our legislative bodies, in theory, can be controlled by the will of a small percentage of the population, that can be terrible.

I much prefer the pragmatists that see “country over party”. He is NOT one of those.

Workout notes: weights then 2 miles of running on the treadmill:

weights: rotator cuff
pullups (5 sets of 10: not that bad)
dumbbell bench press: 10 x 70, 9 x 80 (ran out of gas)
inline bench press: 2 sets of 10 x 135
military press (dumbbell, standing) 10 x 50, 10 x 45, 10 x 45
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110
Hammer Machine incline: 2 sets of 10 x 140
abs: 2 sets of 12 crunch, 10 yoga leg lifts, 10 moving bridges

Run: “every 2”: 5.2-5.4 first 10, 6.7-7.1 second 10. 10:56/8:40 and made it to 2.04 miles

I noted, with amusement, the young man who handled way more than he was capable by…only going 1/2 to 2/3 of the way down. Not sure if that was intentional (only working prior to the sticking point?)

April 13, 2017 Posted by | republicans, republicans politics, running, social/political, weight training | | Leave a comment

Some differences between Trump supporters and Obama supporters….

A few days ago, I posted a snarky tweet about Trump struggling to spell “hereby” and it showed up on Facebook. It got a few likes and comments, and evidently one of those who “liked” my tweet (or retweet) has some Trump supporters on his friends list; evidently my post showed up on this Trump supporter’s wall.

The said Trump supporter thought it was ok to go to my post and chastise me; it wasn’t. 🙂 But the gist is that while the misspelling was something we were having fun with, we are angry about far more than that.

But then one of my facebook friends responded:

And there lies the rub: I expect a US president to have a lot going for him/her. I expect competence, enough humility to know what they know well and to seek out advice when they need it. I expect them to be a master of diplomacy and to set the example for civil behavior.

On the other hand, Trump supporters see President Trump as what THEY would be like were they born into money. They would live that way (I sure as hell wouldn’t) and tell people off and just run off at the mouth; expert knowledge isn’t needed…merely COMMON SENSE (what makes sense to THEM, given their limited experience and background).

They see the careful, nuanced, thoughtful approach of President Obama as a type of weakness.

And to be fair, the rest of the modern Republican party is that way: all slogans, all the time.

And that is probably my biggest beef with modern conservatives. I actually share a few of their values, but I give a high premium to the actual “execution” of the ideas. Just yelling slogans isn’t enough; in fact, it isn’t even a start.

It isn’t enough for an idea to make sense to me; it has to work on the spreadsheet as well.

March 6, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, social/political | Leave a comment

The liberal way

There was a recent article about Fitbit and how its use did NOT seem to make people fitter, in general:

The trial took place at the University of Pittsburgh between 2010 and 2012, and it involved more than 470 adults between the ages of 18 and 35. All of them were put on a low-calorie diet, had group counseling sessions and were advised to increase their physical activity. Six months into the intervention, all were given telephone counseling sessions, text-message prompts and study materials online.

At that time, though, half were also given wearable tech devices that monitored their activity and connected to a website to help provide feedback. All participants were followed for 18 more months.

At the end of the two years, which is pretty long for a weight loss study, those without access to the wearable technology lost an average of 13 pounds. Those with the wearable tech lost an average of 7.7 pounds.

It’s hard for many to accept, so I’m going to state the results again: Those people who used the wearable tech for 18 months lost significantly less weight than those who didn’t.

You may rightfully point out that the primary reason to wear the devices isn’t to lose weight — it’s to be more active. But even in this respect, it didn’t work nearly as well as we might hope. In the IDEA trial, those who employed the technology were no more physically active than those who didn’t. They also weren’t more fit.

Now this is a very narrow demographic (18 to 35) and most of the people that I talk to or who use this are considerably older than 35 years old. And yes, one of the fans of the fitbit is ..my wife. Nevertheless, Paul Krugman weighed in:

Notice: instead of panning a study that gave a counterintuitive result, he looked for other reasons as to why HIS individual experience might have been different. That’s the liberal way.

Now about the other people: People have been showing up at town halls and letting their members of Congress, often Republicans, hear from them. Democracy in action, right? Uh..

no…

That’s pathetic, Mr. President.

Weather and workouts

Was it warm today, by “February in Illinois” standards. Evidently, we aren’t alone. We are having “April/May” stuff right now.

I took advantage to walk a hilly 5K at 14:27 mpm (Bradley Hill course). That was after weights:

rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10, good), bench press (dumbbell) 10 x 70, 10 x 75, incline press: 10 x 135 (hips planted), military press: 10 x 50, 45, 40 (dumbbell), machine rows (10 x 110, 3 sets).
abs: 2 sets of 10 yoga leg lifts, 12 twist crunches.

lots of free squats; then 5 x 45, 4 sets of 5 x 50 dumbbell goblet, 10 x 230 leg press. Butt is getting stronger.

Right shoulder: slightly sore; back; ache came back briefly while lying down.

February 22, 2017 Posted by | health care, political/social, republicans, republicans politics, social/political, walking, weight training | Leave a comment